Welcome to our ‘Quick Year in Review’ for 2019-2020. Following the positive feedback we received last year, and the environmental, budget and time benefits it delivered, we have again decided to present our annual report as a punchy and informative electronic document. We promise you the option of a quick read, but we’ve provided extensive links throughout the text for a more detailed exploration of our activities. This annual report explains some of our work undertaken in 2019-2020 and our budgetary outcomes. We hope you enjoy this snapshot of what we have achieved.  With the range of devices on which this will be read, you will find the best version on your browser.


Why invest in overseas agricultural R&D in a pandemic?
2019-2020 has been a year unlike any other in the more than 30-year history of the Crawford Fund. Our public awareness, training, and NextGen activities were progressing as usual until March. The COVID-19 pandemic, whilst halting all of our physical overseas activities, will undoubtedly impact food security in many of the countries we work in for years to come, making our mission more important than ever.  As the world slowly emerges from the impacts of the pandemic, the need for overseas aid will increase in our region to support the most severely affected communities.  Our view is that aid in the form of agricultural research and development investment is money well spent. It enables communities to increase food production, profitability and resilience that leads to sound social, educational and environmental outcomes that have a high positive benefit, especially for women and children who are often the most severely impacted. Furthermore, overseas aid spent in supporting the international research centres and on a bilateral basis returns a benefit to Australia in terms of access to improved knowledge and crop varieties for greater production at home, more effective biosecurity vigilance networks and a variety of soft power benefits that are of growing importance in this globalised world.

The pandemic has significantly altered how we do business. Read the full statement from The Hon John Anderson, our Chair and Dr Colin Chartres, our CEO on how we have ensured our work and impact continues. 

The Hon John Anderson AO

Chair, Crawford Fund

Dr Colin Chartres

CEO, Crawford Fund


In the year of a global pandemic, our public awareness program responded with dexterity to the even greater need to highlight food and nutrition security issues, the impact of agricultural research for development, and the work being undertaken by the Crawford Fund and its national and international partners. Some of our activity highlights included:


Our efforts to encourage greater involvement of young Australians in agriculture for development to further energise the sector and build capacity in Australia have gone from strength to strength this year. Complementing our past work with our awards, scholarships and volunteering opportunities, and our ongoing support and work with the RAID Network, an added impetus was possible with support from ACIAR for a special NextGen project which has enabled us to make stronger national and international connections, hear from more young voices in the field, develop a greater social media NextGen focus, and produce more activities than ever to highlight the personal, professional and global opportunities and impacts. A snapshot of the project and other NextGen work includes that we:
  • supported 30 of the 51 conference scholarships to university students from all around Australia, who provided detailed reflections on the value of their conference experience, made valuable because of our wonderful mentors and RAID volunteers involved in the program
  • managed a record number of Student Awards, with 24 university students successful in their efforts to gain international agricultural research experience, usually with ACIAR and our international partners, and most completing and reporting on their experiences before travel was restricted by COVID-19
  • launched a series of videos of volunteers and mentors for our Laos mentoring program, produced with the Australian Volunteers Program. One video includes Madaline Healey, who has moved from being a former conference scholar, then volunteer and now a mentor
  • provided three volunteer and three researcher positions within our Laos program
  • again supported the AgriEducate Essay Competition, while our Queensland Committee continued another year supporting the Schools Plant Science competition
  • continued our training and networking events with the RAID network, who have separately reported on their year
  • delighted in organising almost 30 NextGen blogs to inspire young Australians, ranging from “Saying Yes” to volunteer opportunities in Laos; to getting your foot in the door of the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network; to a beautiful love and appreciation for bees and honey; and, friends in remote places
  • participated in a notable number of public and online events specifically focused on encouraging young people into international agriculture for development careers and experiences, including events hosted by Australian Women in Agriculture; PrimeZone and the Primary Industries Education Foundation of Australia; Science Teachers Association of WA, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Geography Teachers Association of Victoria, University of Melbourne, the Future Farmers Network, and RuralBiz Training.


The Crawford Fund’s State and Territory Programs continued to expand our mentoring initiatives in 2019-2020. Our experienced mentors worked to further build capacity in technical and organisational skills and expertise on agricultural projects across our dedicated programs in Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. In 2019-2020, our NSW Committee continued their long-running mentoring activities in Laos, which benefits from a significant international network of e-mentors providing advice and lab support; our NSW and Tasmanian Committees furthered their work with our partners on the ground to improve maternal and child nutrition through agriculture in Timor-Leste; our South Australia Committee funded a Silviculture Mentoring and Study Tour Program; and our Tasmanian Committee supported capacity building around managing acacias for sawlogs in Vietnam. In anticipation of ongoing travel restrictions and the desperate need for expertise sharing and capacity building to continue within developing country communities, the Crawford Fund has moved to develop a new e-mentoring initiative for the period ahead, with our large network of experienced and dedicated scientists willingly stepping up to help.


Master classes remain the flagship training initiative of the Crawford Fund, and they are delivered by experienced instructors to early and mid-career researchers. This initiative not only builds a higher level of expertise across emerging areas of science, policy and agribusiness, but encourages networks within these areas across regions. This high-quality tuition is often presented in partnership with other key agencies, including ACIAR, CSIRO, international centres, universities and State governments both in Australia and internationally.

In 2019-2020, we delivered four master classes including our highly popular agricultural research leadership and management and genebank management master classes, and classes addressing management strategy evaluation for fisheries in Indonesia, and public sector training in agricultural value chains in Cambodia. These involved over 80 participants from 25 countries, including Australians.


Increasing the skills of agricultural scientists and farmers in developing countries is the key focus of the Crawford Fund’s State and Territory Programs. They develop and implement practical, short-term, hands-on training and this year activities were tailored to the needs of individuals and groups in developing countries across Asia and the Pacific. Over the years, we have trained close to 13,500 people in 55 countries. Our NextGen activities also receive considerable support from the committees, which all now endeavour to include a RAID Network member in their ranks. The committees funded a record 24 student awardees, supported 30 of our 51 conference scholarships, and provided speakers at some of our NextGen events around the country. As noted earlier, a growing focus of some of our committees is providing and supporting mentors in the field. An overview of all the master classes, training, mentoring, scholarships and awards funded this year is available online. While some training and mentoring activities and awards are awaiting the lifting of travel restrictions, snippets of the work supported by each of our committees in 2019-2020 are provided below:

ACT Committee

Led by the long-serving Chair, The Hon Margaret Reid, former President of the Senate, and Coordinator, Dr Tony Fischer, Honorary Fellow at CSIRO, our ACT Committee supported four conference scholarships, a Student Award and a training course in 2019-2020. CSIRO’s Amy Mackenzie, a conference scholar said, “If I didn’t know a career in agricultural science was right for me until the Crawford Fund 2019 Conference, I certainly do now.” Sam Coggins, an ACIAR graduate researcher, received support to learn about all things rice-related at the International Rice Research Institute and, along with our SA Committee, a training course was delivered about nematode identification, quarantine, management and research to staff from the Myanmar Department of Agriculture.

NSW Committee

Congratulations to NSW coordinator, Dr Helen Scott-Orr, who completed her term as the inaugural Inspector-General of Biosecurity for Australia during the year. The committee's capacity building and mentoring activities in Laos involved pre-COVID-19 visits by Professor Lester Burgess, Professor Deirdre Lemerle and others, and numerous active e-mentors who continue to provide advice and significant laboratory support outside of Laos through COVID-19. In Timor-Leste Dr Robyn Alders continued to focus on One-Health and nutrition issues. The committee also made significant investment in NextGen initiatives supporting five conference scholars, including Lucy Noble from the University of Sydney who said “I left the Conference feeling invigorated and inspired to reach-out to many of the incredible people that I had met,” and seven student awardees travelled to Indonesia, Samoa, Laos and the Philippines. Jori Bremer, a PhD student from the University of New England, reflected on her award experience as part of ACIAR IndoBeef program in Indonesia, “I now have a better understanding on the local conditions and I have a better view on realistic research pathways and crucial information for the continuation of my PhD…”.

NT Committee

Our NT program, chaired by Prof Helen Garnett, former Vice Chancellor of Charles Darwin University and coordinated by Tania Paul from Charles Darwin University, welcomed RAID Network activities in Darwin, including training and networking events. The committee supported two Territorians with Conference Scholarships in 2019. Meg Humphrys from the NT Government said of the experience, “It is such a rare opportunity for young people to speak to people that have had incredible careers and have a wealth of knowledge in a space where they can share some of that knowledge.” Jane Ray, a PhD student was the recipient of an NT Committee Student Award which saw her travel to Costa Rica as part of a project to identify and manage bacterial wilt diseases in bananas.

QLD Committee

Congratulations to Queensland Chair, Professor Kaye Basford who received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the June 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours. The Queensland Committee's activities included two international engagement awards for training and mentoring in 2019-2020, with 'fruitful collaborations' for the papaya and banana industries. The NextGen activities included awards for six students to gain firsthand experience in international agricultural development. Rebekah Ash focused on cassava disease screening in an ACIAR project, with The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture and found it “an invaluable learning experience.” Peta Stockwell was one of six conference scholar winners supported by the committee and found the event perfect in helping her “navigate the next step in my career path.” An ongoing partnership with TropAg saw 10 young researchers from developing countries receive support to present their science, also reporting individually on our website, and once again The Crawford Fund International Agricultural Science Award was supported as part of the 2019 Hermitage Schools Plant Science Competition for school students.

SA Committee

The 2019-2020 year was the first full year as the SA Committee Chair for Hon Rev Dr Lynn M F Arnold AO, formerly Premier of SA, with former long serving Chair, Dr John Radcliffe, welcomed as a continuing member of the committee. Training activities supported by our South Australian Committee in 2019-2020 included capacity building in nematology in Myanmar, a silviculture mentoring and study tour program, high-impact extension approaches in Vietnam, and a feed mill business planning workshop in Samoa. Four young scientists were supported by conference scholarships, including Joshua Philp who said, “It has been an informative and beneficial experience that I hope I can repay by furthering the Crawford Fund’s aims of improving food security in my role as an agricultural scientist.” Student Award recipient Manithaythip Thephavanh travelled to Laos to investigate young people’s attitudes towards agricultural entrepreneurship as a career, and was impressed by their passion for the field.

TAS Committee

Tasmanian Chair, Dick Warner, has remained active in the committee's projects playing to Tasmania’s strengths around water and horticulture with the work underway on improved water supply and horticultural production in Timor-Leste following his 2018  meeting and discussion with Nobel Prize Winner, Dr José Ramos Horta. The two Tasmanian student awardees travelled to Timor-Leste to engage in projects aimed at these water supply issues and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Our Tasmanian Committee again supported four conference scholars from the University of Tasmania, including Olivia Woodiwiss who found the experience crystallised her future, “Being able to speak with so many professionals helped me decide to take up an Honours project next year, after huge encouragement to pursue my aspirations.”  Training projects delivered in 2019-2020 included developing writing skills for fact sheets on PNG soil composition, two workshops at the Seychelles Fishing Authority on fish harvest strategies and reproductive biology, and mentoring continues to support the professional and managerial skills of forestry staff in Tonga.

VIC Committee

The Crawford Fund farewelled its long-serving Victorian coordinator Ted Hayes during the year and welcomed Bill Lewis to the role, with the Victorian Chair, Dr Tony Gregson and the rest of the Crawford Fund family warmly thanking Ted for his many years of service. Three young Victorians supported by the committee all reported positively on their conference experience. The life-long personal impact of on-the-ground experiences available to the three student awardees was wonderfully captured by Peter Richardson who worked in Myanmar on an ACIAR livestock project, and concluded, “[I] have been strongly influenced by the kindness and generosity of people who struggle daily to simply feed their family. It truly was an eye-opening experience.” Four training initiatives were delivered with a workshop on liver fluke disease; training in digital data - survey design, deployment & interpretation; fungal plant pathogen identification and plant biosecurity; and, sustainable potato production to address food security, all delivered pre-COVID to participants from throughout SE and South Asia including Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and the Pacific.

WA Committee

Our WA Coordinator, Em Professor Lyn Abbott, kindly assisted our new NextGen project by producing a panel at the WA Science Teachers' Conference in October 2019 to highlight opportunities in ag for development. This was followed by support for RAID Network activities in Perth during the year. The Crawford Fund’s conference made an impact on WA scholar Wesley Moss who flagged a long-term commitment to the field declaring he hoped “to be able to attend as a mentor in the future to contribute to this great event.” The WA student awardee, Daniel Waterhouse from Murdoch University, travelled to Myanmar to research insects as a sustainable feed option for the aquaculture, pork and poultry sectors and reported that although interest in insects as feed has been significant and appears to be increasing, challenges remain. The Committee’s training during the year focused on capacity building for Bangladeshi researchers around data organising, analysing, interpreting and presenting and the benefits for crops, farmers and the environment achieved  from cassava and legume intercropping delivered in Hanoi to participants from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.


The Fund’s work would not be possible without the dedication of our unpaid Board of Directors – all highly experienced retired politicians, public servants, tertiary administrators and farmers; our small staff, and our State and Territory coordinators and their volunteer committees. Our heartfelt thanks to all of them.

We also warmly thank all those organisations and individuals who continue to support our work in public awareness, training, mentoring and NextGen through personal involvement or financial support. It is very much appreciated.

Finally, it is with considerable sadness that we reported in August the passing of our patron and former Chair, The Hon Tim Fischer AC. Tim was committed to agriculture and agricultural R&D both at home and overseas, and most recently worked with the Fund in his role as Chair of the Crop Trust explained in this reflection on Tim by our board member, Dr Tony Gregson.


Our general-purpose financial statement (GPFS), containing the Directors’ report, financial report and independent auditor’s report for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 are posted on our website.

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The Crawford Fund is a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness of the benefits to Australia and developing countries from international agricultural research. We engage Australians in practical specialist training and mentoring activities for developing country agricultural scientists and farmers, and encourage and support the next generation in their careers, studies and volunteering in agriculture for development.
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